COLCHESTER United chairman Robbie Cowling says he is feeling optimistic ahead of the new League Two season.

The U’s are preparing for another campaign in the fourth tier, having narrowly missed out on the play-offs last time around.

Colchester have been active in this summer’s transfer window, drafting in the likes of Jevani Brown, Luke Gambin and Dean Gerken to strengthen their cause.

And while talented home-grown duo Sammie Szmodics and Frankie Kent have left for higher-placed clubs, the U’s are hoping that their next batch of academy youngsters can now catch the eye at first-team level.

Cowling, speaking at the club’s Open Day, said: “I think this season, I’m more excited than I have been.

“What drives me is that we’ve invested a lot into the academy and we have some very exciting prospects coming through.

“I get more of a buzz I think every year that goes on and I’m always optimistic.”

Colchester supporters are hoping to see their side mount a serious challenge for automatic promotion from League Two, this season.

John McGreal’s side have come close to clinching a play-off place in each of his three seasons in charge since he succeeded Kevin Keen at the helm in May, 2016.

With plenty of new arrivals this summer, hopes are high among U’s fans that they can return to League One.

Cowling says it is a good thing that they are aiming for the top – but the Colchester supremo admits they will be battling against clubs with bigger budgets.

“In terms of expectations, in some ways I think it’s good that everyone here has the expectation of seeing us right at the top of this division,” said Cowling.

“I know you’re not going to like me saying this but last year, our support was 16th in the division.

“This is what we’ve got to play with so the money that’s coming into the club from tickets and everything else, there’s 15 clubs who have got more of that than us.

“That’s what we’re competing against but there’s been a lot of work done by Tony (Humes), John (McGreal) and the other people behind the scenes to bring in the players that we’ve got and make them want to play for us.

“We don’t always pay the best wages and some of the players who have come had been offered more money elsewhere.

“But we get them into Florence Park (training ground), we show them around, they talk to Tony and John and nine times out of ten before that’s over, they want to come and sign for Colchester.”